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Five observations from Duke men's basketball's first half against Pittsburgh

<p>Vernon Carey Jr. opened the contest on fire, scoring the team's first seven points.</p>

Vernon Carey Jr. opened the contest on fire, scoring the team's first seven points.

Coming off of a week of rest after a blowout win against Miami, the Blue Devils—with the exception of Vernon Carey Jr.—came out looking rusty in Cameron Indoor Stadium Tuesday night. However, No. 9 Duke heated up as the half progressed, heading to the locker room leading Pittsburgh 45-34. Here are five observations from the opening period.

Vernon Carey Jr. comes out of the gate strong

After a lackluster first half and entire game against Miami, Vernon Carey Jr. came out looking for blood on the offensive end Tuesday. He began the game with a lefty layup, followed by a wide-open triple and two made free-throws, accounting for Duke’s first seven points of the matchup.

Duke’s offense quiets down after hot start

After Carey and Cassius Stanley powered Duke to a quick 9-2 lead, the Blue Devils couldn’t seem to find a bucket, and Pittsburgh took advantage, going on a 10-0 run to take a 12-9 lead. Duke seemed flustered on the offensive end and only Carey was able to consistently get to the hoop. Poor decisions and sloppy play from the Blue Devils allowed Pittsburgh to stay in this one for much of the half. 

Duke keeps up the strong 3-point shooting

After a strong shooting performance against Miami, the Blue Devils continued to stroke it well, hitting seven of its 14 3-point attempts. It was a balanced effort, as four different Duke players made a shot from beyond the arc.

Upperclassmen shine

With just more than six minutes left in the half, Duke led by just three, with Carey the only Blue Devil really playing well. But from there, it was all upperclassmen. Jordan Goldwire, Tre Jones, and Jack White all connected on their threes and were able to propel Duke to a double-digit lead at the break.

Player of the half: Vernon Carey Jr.

If weren’t for Carey, the Blue Devils would almost certainly be down big. From the opening tip, only Carey was able to find any consistency on the offensive end. The freshman center had 11 of Duke's first 15 points, also grabbing eight rebounds in the half.

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